Arsenal take the points yet again
I suppose it shouldn’t have come as a surprise; Burnley played Arsenal and lose although at least this time, despite them scoring in stoppage time, there was no real controversy over their goals in this 3-1 win against us.
The final game of the season. For some clubs it is a tense day, but for others, like ourselves, there is nothing really to play for and you wonder whether the suitcases have been packed and the players are ready for their holidays. At least we got some holiday weather for the occasion with virtually cloudless skies for much of the afternoon as yet another sold out crowd made their last visit to the Turf as they prepared for the three month break ahead of us.
There had been suggestions that Sean Dyche might be in holiday mood and could make a few changes with the team, but that wasn’t the case and, after he’d made two changes at Everton, it was back to the same eleven who had started the last home game against Manchester City.
Things didn’t start too well for us, and in particular Tom Heaton. Right at the start of the game his poor kick gave Arsenal their first opportunity to attack us. Tom then handled the ball just outside the box, got a yellow card and then saw Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hit the woodwork from the resulting free kick. Would it have been given had it gone in? It came off his arm although he seemed to get away with that.
But this was no end of season jolly for the Burnley players. We took the game to Arsenal and by half time should really have been going in with a lead. As always, Ashley Barnes was in the thick of it and he had our first real opportunity but headed wide. He then got himself a yellow card but quite how I’ll never know. The players who should have been yellow carded were Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno and right-back Stephan Lichsteiner and referee Mike Dean should have been pointing to the penalty spot.
It was a crazy moment but Leno, with the ball in his hands, decided to barge Barnes and felled him in the box. Lichsteiner then got involved but it was Barnes carded. Dean hadn’t seen the incident and apparently took advice from his assistant who should have seen everything and apparently, given the resulting decision, saw, or opted to see, nothing.
Chris Wood then latched onto a ball through from Matt Lowton, beat Leno, but saw his shot come back off the foot of the post and then when Barnes got clear down the right, both Jack Cork and Lowton saw efforts blocked.
Arsenal, following those opening minutes, didn’t force Heaton into a save but did come close with an effort just before half time although it was Burnley who must have thought themselves unfortunate to be going still level.
We started the second half well but then became the architects of our own downfall as Aubameyang made it six goals in three games against us with a third successive brace. Ben Mee struggled with a ball across to him from Cork and that left Aubameyang in a one-on-one with Heaton. The prolific goalscorer was never going to miss that one and eleven minutes later he got his second with a superb volley although he was probably given far too much time and space as a ball came in from the left.
The Gabon international should have had a hat trick too but missed the easiest of his three chances although by then we were right back into the game with a goal just two minutes after Arsenal’s second.
Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson came on for Dwight McNeil before we restarted after Arsenal’s second and he immediately got down the left and crossed well. Arsenal cleared that but only as far as Lowton who got it back in for Barnes. The ball dropped for Guðmundsson who got in a shot that Leno did well to save. Now it was Jeff Hendrick on the right; his excellent cross was headed by Wood but to Guðmundsson. He gathered the ball on the line, knocked it back for Barnes who deftly headed home.
We gave it a real go to try and get at least a point but it wasn’t to be and right at the end it was Arsenal who scored a third through Eddie Nketiah and the season had ended with a home defeat for the third successive year.
Other than that, there had been nothing to play for other than pride and our players showed that in abundance. I’m sure they will be going on their holidays now and they will probably have those suitcases packed by now.
It’s been a tough season for us all with us having to claw back from the first half of the season, but we’ve done it and we can now look forward to the Premier League fixtures being released next month and it gives us two more opportunities to record a league win against Arsenal.
The teams were;
Burnley: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jeff Hendrick (Robbie Brady 82), Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil (Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson 64), Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood (Peter Crouch 77). Subs not used: Joe Hart, Kevin Long, Stephen Ward, Matěj Vydra.
Yellow Cards: Tom Heaton, Ashley Barnes, James Tarkowski, Matt Lowton, Jack Cork.
Arsenal: Bernd Leno, Stephan Lichsteiner, Shkodran Mustafi, Konstantinos Mavropanos (Laurent Koscielny 34), Nacho Monreal, Mohamed Elneny, Matteo Guendouzi, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Joe Willock (Eddie Nketiah 62), Alex Iwobi, Pierre-Aubameyang. Subs not used: Petr Cech, Sead Kolasinac, Granit Xhaka, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Alexandre Lacazette.
Yellow Card: Matteo Guendouzi.
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral).
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